June 7, 2009

Ojibwa, Marquette, MI & the UP

We're hold up at the Ojibwa Casino just east of Marquette, in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Hey, we don't gamble - but, it's free boondocking - with electric! The rain's a pourin', it's 42 degrees and we need to catch up on the blog for you...
OK, so it's now late afternoon June 8th, it's rained all day, we can barely make out the Casino sign through the downpour in spite of the fact that's it's only a few hundred feet away....

FINALLY! the weather breaks, and we drive the shoreline of Lake Superior, starting near where we left off in 2007 (we didn't complete the small section of the Circle Tour, from here to Duluth area). We are surprised at how different this area looks when compared to Pictured Rocks to the east and Duluth to the west.

We also are enjoying the "fall like" colors on the vegetation and trees, quite a surprise for this time of year, but the weather is a bit cool....perhaps that the driving force behind this contrast.
Next day we decide to take the drive along the Lake up to "Big Bay", a small town that is as far north of Marquette as you can go by road without doubling back through Covington to the west.
First stop is the Escanaba River State Forest area where part of the North Country Trail follows the shore line out to a small point. One of the things we love about hiking up here is that, unlike the south, the woods are filled with birch and conifers, which tend to rob the lower forest floor of light, keeping the underbrush down. This makes for easy hiking, and a really nice view out through the trees under the canopy.

The beach looks like something you might find in Florida, and there is a nice chop on the water due to winds from the northwest. In spite of the breeze, the chilly morning fog still blankets a small island just off the point. Walking along, I come across this beautiful gull feather just lying patiently in the sand (really a mix of finely ground rock).
At the point, we witness an unusual occurance, the wind blown waves from either side of the island are meeting here in the center, crashing together, nullifying each other.

Hiking further along the North Country Trail, we are entralled by the numerous examples of fauna that vary so much from what we typically had seen along the Appalachian Trail. (look closely now)

Kim pauses over the creek for one last look at this beautiful area prior to driving further north towards Big Bay.

We choose an old dirt logging road for part of the journey. The birch stands in this area are stunning!

There are a few remote hunter's cabins in this area, this one for sale....humm....

Reaching Big Bay identified primarily by the old lighthouse, now privately owned and operated as a Bed & Breakfast (How'd you like to own such a jewel?). It's lunchtime, so we stop in town at the Thunder Bay Inn for a nice soup and sandwich combo, a real bargain for being this far off the radar!

Among a few local old buildings, we get a laugh out of the front of the outfitter's place. His unique totem adding to the charm of this small, rural northern community.
Heading back to Ojibwa, I just had to stop at this rushing cascading waterfall for an exhilerating moment!